This wasn’t your ordinary scout team.
No, not with Casey Calvary impersonating Washington State center Aron Baynes. And Matt Santangelo imitating Cougars point guard Taylor Rochestie. And Alex Hernandez mimicking WSU guard Nikola Koprivica. And Brian Michaelson knocking down a 3-pointer. And Colin Floyd taking some repetitions, pretending to be Rochestie.
The group of former Gonzaga Bulldogs – Michaelson and Hernandez are currently GU administrative assistants – pitched in at Monday’s practice to help the team’s preparation for Wednesday’s showdown against WSU. They were joined by walk-on guard Andrew Sorenson and redshirt freshman forward Andy Poling.
“If we can help out the team, all of us here are happy to do it,” said Calvary, who anticipated a post-practice ice bath would be in order because he hasn’t played since the Dan Dickau charity game in September. “We have to make sure we take it super serious. We have a tendency to joke around when we’re together.”
Santangelo cracked that “I got more gear today than I did in five years here at this university.”
The old Zags, for the most part, held their own against Gonzaga’s starting five. Hernandez converted a turnover into a layup and Calvary showed he’s not easily moved as he battled inside against Josh Heytvelt.
“It’s always been a family atmosphere around here,” Heytvelt said. “We really appreciate when they come back because they have all the experience.”
Santangelo said he’s thankful his scout team duty was for the deliberate Cougars compared with say, Tennessee, which plays at a breakneck pace.
“So all the old guys, we’ll go full speed and we’ll look like Washington State playing conservatively,” he said.
Santangelo’s loyalties are with his alma mater, obviously, but he’s a fan of both programs.
“I think it’s fantastic that we have both of these programs in our backyard and we get to enjoy this rivalry,” he said.
Long and short of it
Several Bulldogs said it wasn’t easy finding their shooting touch at cavernous Lucas Oil Stadium during Saturday’s win over Indiana.
“With all that open space and so much space from the court to the fans, it was a different experience,” guard Micah Downs said. “But if we want to play in the Final Four (at Ford Field in Detroit) we have to get used to that.”
“It was such a huge place, if you yelled at somebody across the floor it was like you couldn’t get to them,” guard Matt Bouldin said.
Head coach Mark Few said the players shot pretty well in Friday’s workout.
“The problem with places like that and the big arenas, it’s like the rims are so tight,” he said. “We were watching film on the way home and we had four layins that went in and out that would never have gone in and out at a college arena.”
Gonzaga and Ohio State, which won the nightcap against Notre Dame, each made 18.8 percent on 3-pointers (3 of 16). Indiana and Notre Dame, one of the best shooting teams in the nation, each made 36.8 percent (7 of 19). It was Notre Dame’s second-lowest 3-point percentage of the season.
Calvary, the WCC player of the year in 2001, has been impressed with Heytvelt’s first six games. “He’s having a great year,” Calvary said. “I’m really proud of him.” … Santangelo said he played pick-up ball with former Bulldog Dan Dickau a couple weeks ago in Portland. Dickau signed with an Italian team in September but returned home before the season started. “He’s in shape,” Santangelo said. “He’s still entertaining the idea of an NBA team. If nothing evolves, in the new year he’ll probably go back to Europe. He’s talking with a number of different teams.”
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